A solution to the Macedonia-Greece problem

For 50 years, but most importantly, for the last 15 years, the Republic of Macedonia and Greece are having some problems. Greece maintains that the “ancient Macedonia” is part of Greece and that this newly created country should not be using this name. The Republic of Macedonia on the other hand, maintains that they are descendants of the ancient Macedonians and that they should be using that name.

The problem is not really in the actual name. The problem is that Greece is afraid that after 25 or 50 years from now, Macedonia would start a war to “free” the Greek part of Macedonia and make it its own (a part which btw, is populated by 90% ethnic Greeks who even if they might be descendants of the same ethnic group, they now feel Greek more than anything else). Ancient history is very important to Greeks, and they won’t tolerate anyone telling them otherwise.

Macedonia today is nothing different than Greece was circa 1740. If you were asking a Greek person back then what his ethnic background was, he would tell you that he’s “a descendant of the Roman empire”. Only after the west powers decided to “enlighten” the Greek population (for their own purposes, of course), the Greeks became the fanatical chauvinistic Greeks we all have come to love today. Same with Macedonia, they were for too long under a regime that did not let them find a identity. When they gained their freedom, they HAD to find an identity. It’s something that’s essential to any group or country. And Macedonia, well, decided to be identified with ancient Macedonians. I can’t really blame them for doing so, even if not the whole of their country ever was part of the ancient Macedonia. All I am saying is that their claims are only humanly natural.

These days, Greece has vetoed the inclusion of Macedonia to NATO and EU if they don’t change their naming wishes. Currently, the UN is trying to help both countries to find a solution. They will debate for years to come. I have a different solution, a solution that should have been done 2,500 years ago.

The solution is to make both countries, a single country. Call it “Macedonia and Greece”, or call it “Macedreece” or call it “Greedonia”, I don’t really care. The point is, these two cultures have MORE in common than they think they do. Ancient Macedonians were very similar in their culture and religion with the rest of Greece. It takes guts to merge two countries, but it has been done in the past, and it can be done again, peacefully. Sure, that didn’t stop Athenians and Spartans from being into war every 5 years or so. And by the time Rome became strong and attacked, Greeks were so have killed each other, that it was too late to fight together against them. But they did think of themselves as ethnically similar.

My final argument is this: both cultures adore Great Alexander, and each one wants the hero to be their exclusive hero. And yet, all Great Alexander wanted for both, was a united Macedonia-Greece. By not having the wisdom to merge after 2,500 years, neither of you deserve him as its hero.

If your reply is: “yes, but modern Greeks and Macedonians are not as similar as ancient Greeks and ancient Macedonians were”, then my answer is simple: if that’s the case, then NONE of the countries should be using the words “Greece”, or “Macedonia” in any of their territories. But I doubt they would accept that. It might even be more politically acceptable to merge rather than see their peoples lose their identity. Because when losing your identity and ethnicism, politicians lose their grip to that country, and politicians are not ready to let this go. It’s all a game of power you see.


Kiril wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 6:49 PM PST:

You said “When they gained their freedom, they HAD to find an identity.” Excuse me? I know my roots and my identity. I am not searching for anything, do you?

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Eugenia wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 7:22 PM PST:

Every newfound country searches for its ethnic identity. Even if you knew of your identity before you gain your independence, after you actually did, you make that search/validation even stronger. Everyone goes through that, no need to be defensive.

Your country went through the same transformation as mine did. Some forces, simply injected into the population the idea of who they were. This might have happened 50 or 100 years ago. Never assume anything that “you know your roots”. I don’t assume anything that I am actually “greek” (in fact, there’s a good chance that I am part Turkish or Cretan or Egyptian, as my mother is pretty dark-looking, while my father looks like a Slav-Albanian). And yet, I come out as Greek to everyone just because I was born there and my passport says so.

So no, don’t assume of knowing your roots. You know only what you have been fed on at school and on TV. Grow beyond that. You are who you are deep inside, not who your descendants where 2000 years ago. Assume nothing. I don’t. I don’t need to “belong”.

In fact, I find the whole ethnicism crap silly as hell. If you go far enough in time, we probably had the same dad.

Nick Christoforou wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 8:38 PM PST:

Eugenia, you’re very funny but not very well educated, I’m afraid. Drawing parallel’s between today’s Slavic speaking people and Greeks and ancient Macedonians and Greeks is exactly why the dispute exists. Ancient “Macedonians” WERE Greek. Modern day Greeks certainly have a closer link to that history than Slavic speaking people who settled part of the geographic area centuries later.

On the other hand, I don’t object to people calling themselves whatever they wish. But for integrity’s sake, why don’t these new “Macedonians” incorporate their Slavic identity into their name – at least to differentiate themselves from the others. “Republic of Slavic Macedonia” would be the correct name.

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Eugenia wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 9:28 PM PST:

Nick, I am afraid you are the one who is not very well educated. Macedonians were very close to the Greek culture, but mainland Greeks never saw them as one of their own 100%. Compared to Slavs and their history, yes, Macedonians were closer to Greeks in terms of language and religion and culture. But saying that Illyrians, or Macedonians, or Thracian people were one and the same with Spartans or Athenians, is a stretch, a stretch made just so modern Greece can exist. There was no “Greece” in the ancient world, or even in the more modern times. These were all different kingdoms. In the ancient world, being a “Greek” was just like saying being a “latin american”. Similar cultures, but not the same. Proof that they were fighting each other all day.

In my opinion, the whole thing is silly. Just silly. If the Republic of Macedonia was to be allowed to join the NATO and EU by Greece, there would be no fear for invasion (which is what Greece is *supposedly* afraid of), because these organizations exist just so such things never happen. And yet, Greece does not let these people to call themselves any way they want to and let them join these organizations, just like they don’t let the Danish call their cheese “feta”. Give me a break. I will tell you one word in Greek cause this is how it all feels: καπρίτσιο. That’s what it ultimately is all about.

Greeks feel ROBED about something they DON’T own. Nobody owns history. And just because you live there doesn’t mean that you are “one of the ancient ones” (this is true for both modern Greeks and Slav Macedonians). Neither that you should be proud for “being one of them”, because you should only be proud of what YOU have accomplished, not your SUPPOSED ancestors. I have heard so many times the “I am so proud for being a Greek”, which I hate it because they don’t mean that as being modern Greeks, but in reality they mean “I am so proud for being a descendant of the ancient Greeks”. And that’s just SILLY.

And then you have Egypt saying that they want to copyright the shape of the pyramids and disallow other countries from creating similar buildings (that’s what these dumbasses claimed a few months ago). I didn’t see the Greeks protesting the “Athens” city in Georgia, USA, either.

If you have a problem with it, trademark it and see where it gets you. But the word “Macedonia” was not internationally trademarked. If it’s someone to be hold responsible that’s the politicians who didn’t do so (apparently, from both sides).

Don’t get me wrong, I love Greece. I miss it like crazy. I am just not stuck in 500 B.C.

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Eugenia wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 10:27 PM PST:

Haha, here’s a funny one: Slav Macedonia and Greece decide to merge and become one country. Because they can’t find an elegant name to describe both peoples, they decide to use their hero’s name: Alexandria.

And then, you have Egypt starting the whole story all over again. Hahaha…

grimpr wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 10:29 PM PST:

Politically correct views from the other side of the Atlantic. the citizens of the republic of Skopia/Vardaska have been indoctrinated for over 50 years with sauvinist and territorial views on Greece and this is a fact. All they really want is Greece to recognize them as “Macedonia”,they say so themselves. Things are gonna get hot in the Balkan region all because of the Neocon zionist mafia thats driven by greed,global politics/economy and fear of the russian bear.

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Eugenia wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 10:39 PM PST:

>chauvinist and territorial views on Greece

I don’t disagree with that. But if Greece allows them to join EU/NATO, they won’t be able to ACT on these “views”. Greece is achieving the OPPOSITE of what it *supposedly* is afraid right now by not letting them join. THAT’S the paradox.

>Neocon zionist mafia thats driven by greed, global >politics/economy and fear of the russian bear.

What the heck are you talking about?

grimpr wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 10:56 PM PST:

Greece is not letting them join simply because this republic denies to acccept the name strictly on geographical terms,which shows their true agenda. As for the sentimentalist views on the matter that the citizens of this republic would change mindshare from 50 years of hard indoctrination and falsification of history, thats not gonna happen even in 10 generations ahead. As for the last comment its simply conspiracy thoughts,but that doesn’t mean that they dont exist, an examination on this subject will clarify the paths of think tanks,geopolitics and powerhouses that govern the foreign and internal politics of the current imperium of the world.

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Eugenia wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 10:59 PM PST:

>republic denies to acccept the name strictly on geographical terms

Sources? Cause to me this sounds like FUD. Besides, this still doesn’t explain the paradox.

Even the Greeks DREAM of getting Istanbul back from the Turks, this doesn’t mean that they will initiate a war for it.

grimpr wrote on February 29th, 2008 at 11:19 PM PST:

I don’t have sources at hand,if you got curious just search around the net. Nope,modern Greeks don’t have these dreams,only a small minority of hardcore nationalists, the others are too consumed by consumerist/lifestyle mindshare to even consider fighting for their rights,not become conquerors. In the other surrounding countries of Greece,hardcore ultranationalism is on fire since decades with all of them having territorial views and grasps on Greece and each other. Reality 101,plain and simple. EU is too weak to stand strong and simply obeys orders from across the Atlantic.

john wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 12:50 AM PST:

i kindof agree with this article,everyone can call themselves wat they like,i dont know why greeks r being childish over these things,yes thats true there was no greek name in the ancient times,and the greeks accepted the macedonians as barbarians,now in modern times there just making trouble out of nothing!

Dimitar wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 5:01 AM PST:

How about the Republic of Macedonia joining Bulgaria? Macedonians did consider themselves Bulgarians until 1944. And also consider the other major “Macedonian” icons – the IMRO(Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization), tzar Samuel(Самуил), Kliment of Ohrid, king Marko are Bulgarian? We have much more common history, we have the same language, the same alphabet (or almost, because they use the Serb version of it).

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Eugenia wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 12:18 PM PST:

>How about the Republic of Macedonia joining Bulgaria?

Go ahead, by all means.

Petros wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 12:42 PM PST:

Eugenia you obviously dont know your history quite well when it comes down to Greece.
The Athenians called the Spartans barbarians so does that make them non Greek? Your answer is obviously no.
Only Greeks were able to participate in the Olympics correct? Yes so if Macedonians were not Greek then why where they allowed to participate?
The Macedonians clearly worshipped Ancient Greek gods.
Most ancient historians clearly indicate that Macedonians were Greek.

As for you idea about FYROM being incorporated into Greece is hilarious. Learn about history, geography and then talk. Thanks..

Dienekes wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 1:11 PM PST:

fYROM is a small fraction of the geographical region of Macedonia. Moreover, Slav Macedonians are only a fraction of the linguistic diversity of the geographical region of Macedonia.

It is absurd that the part should lay a claim to the whole. “Republic of Upper Macedonia” or “Republic of Slav Macedonia” would disambiguate the name of fYROM, by describing it geographically or linguistically. However, even such a reasonable compromise seems to be unacceptable to the Slav Macedonians.

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Eugenia wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 1:22 PM PST:

>The Athenians called the Spartans barbarians

No they didn’t. They called them Greeks. Some of them called the Macedonians barbarians. Read your history.

And even if they were part of the Greek culture at one time, who cares? Why such a fuss over a name? The whole point of NATO/EU is to be on the same side, so I don’t see the fears of Greeks for invasion justified.

Petros wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 3:18 PM PST:

Just like the Macedonians the Spartans were called barbarians by the Athenians. Open a real book and read and then tell me different.

How can you say who cares? You obviously have no respect for your ethniticiy or you wouldnt by posting nonsense like this.

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Eugenia wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 3:25 PM PST:

>You obviously have no respect for your ethniticiy

Of course I don’t. In fact, I think lowly of people who do. I find them SILLY.

I LOVE Greece, as “my home”, the “place I grew up” and where “my friends are”. I miss my home so dearly. At nights sometimes I cry when I remember of my village. I am still Greek, with a Greek passport, because that’s where I am from (and if you ask me, there should be no passports anywhere in the world — I am all for open borders). But I AM NOT a nationalist. I AM NOT a chauvinist. I DON’T believe in “races” and “ethnicities”.

For me, EVERY BEING on this planet is the SAME in all levels. SAME. I don’t divide people depending on where they were born. Being a nationalist/ethinicist is a form of racism. It’s fucking stupid. It’s what politicians INJECT so they can CONTROL. Get over the “wow, I was born Greek! Greeks have such a great history, I am so blessed”. Wake up and smell the fucking coffee. Be proud only for the things YOU did, not for the things you unknowingly inherited.

I lived 22 years in Greece. It’s where I am from. But I have also lived in Germany, UK, France and USA. Maybe that’s why I am over the illusion that Greeks are somehow superior beings. We aren’t. We are just people, and if you go even further back in time (and not stop your counting at 500 B.C. just because it suits you), you had the same mothers and fathers as anybody else. So, get over it.

If I can’t convince you, I suggest you read this, this (the first answer suits very well this blog post), and this. Do not reply before you read the last link.

Thom Holwerda wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 7:42 PM PST:

Being a nationalist/ethinicist is a form of racism. It’s fucking stupid.

Sovereignty is one of the greatest goods a person carries with them. Sovereignty of self, the body, thoughts, ideas, experience, emotions – but also sovereignty of identity.

I’m proud to be Dutch. Not because we Dutch are oh-so-great (we aren’t, we are a whiny bunch of mindless morons) or because our history was oh-so-great (it wasn’t, we seriously fcuked up the entire world with our aggressive and ruthless exploitation of the world when we were the superpower of the world), but simply because we, the Dutch people, have also brought a lot of good things into this world. Religious freedom, our major contributions to the arts as well as the sciences, total equality of all men and women by law – no matter your sex, colour, religion, or sexual preference. Every person in The Netherlands has the exact same rights as any other Dutch person – with that, we are one of the few countries in the world without any law-enforced apartheid. I’m proud of my Monarchy, our excellent and well-thought out political system dripping over with self-healing capabilities and plurality, and a few other things too. Like Old Alkmaar Cheese.

And yes, I’m goddamn proud of that – especially now, when right-wing fascists are knocking on our doors trying to undo what we have accomplished. Does that make me a racist, Eugenia? Then so be it.

As usual, nuance is a word you simply don’t understand. Yes, I’m proud of the good things we have achieved, but I’m not blind to all the bad things we did either. I know them, and acknowledge them. I also do not consider the Dutch to be superior to any other people out there. In some areas, yes, we are clearly ahead of the rest of the world – but on so many others, we are hopelessly stuck in the middle ages compared to the rest of the world.

It’s possible to be proud of one’s sovereignty without it having anything to do with feelings of superiority or racism, Eugenia.

Get out more, for god’s sake, meet new people. The world can’t be grasped through the internet.

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Eugenia wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 8:28 PM PST:

Thom, I know that you are as much of a nationalist as Greeks are, so I don’t expect different from you in particular.

>And yes, I’m goddamn proud of that

So, YOU brought arts and sciences to the world? Give me a fucking break. Be proud only of the things you accomplished, not others.

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